May 30, 2009
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) fully utilised its finances for the promotion of the game, inviting a battalion of 11 Pakistani officials, five of them as ‘guests,’ for Congress meeting in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month.
According to a top Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) official, apart from three delegates – PFF secretary Col Ahmad Yar Lodhi (retd), executive committee members Saeed Khan (NWFP) and Salahuddin Dogar (Punjab) – AFC especially invited five more officials as guests.
Those who went as AFC guests were either PFF or provincial association officials. Among the so-called guests were Col Rana Shujaat Ali, Khadim Ali Shah, Ayaz Zahoor, Zahoor Ahmad and Capt Asif.
In addition to the delegates and guests, three referees were also invited as part of ‘elite future referee’ programme. Referee Ahmad went to receive 30-year service award, while Mohammad Ali and Shahid Rasheed went for elite future referee programme, said PFF secretary.
‘It was the AFC which had invited our officials. The number of officials was decided by the AFC, but we chose the officials for the tour. It is a tradition AFC and FIFA always invite officials as guests on different occasion,’ Col Ahmad Yar told Dawn.com from Lahore.
The PFF secretary said AFC paid for the travel and accommodation of the officials including the guests, but was at a loss when asked what role the ‘guests’ played at the Congress.
‘Nothing I guess, they just went on to see things on AFC’s invitation. That’s all I know and can tell you,’ said the secretary.
AFC kept mum when asked about the procedure of participation of delegates from member football federations. The AFC was asked how many officials from each federation can represent, who bears the expenses, and who determines the number of officials as ‘guests.’
Interestingly, PFF director operations Wg-Cdr Pervaiz Mir (retd) and director finance Nadia Naqvi also went to Kuala Lumpur to attend a FIFA seminar on football development.
However, FIFA confirmed only technical director and the secretary-general were invited for the seminar organised in the Malaysian capital. In this case, the trip by Pervaiz and Nadia was funded by FIFA.
‘The technical director and secretary-general of each member association were invited by FIFA for this seminar, and travel and accommodation was paid by FIFA as we do for such seminars all over the world,’ a FIFA spokesperson told Dawn.com from Zurich, Switzerland.
While Col Ahmad Yar said both Pervaiz and Nadia attended the seminar, the FIFA spokesperson didn’t elaborate as to why the director finance was allowed to attend the seminar.
Since the PFF was at liberty to pick and choose its favourites as delegates, guests, and referees for the Congress, AFC’s invitation seems nothing but a way to oblige member associations to buy a certain allegiance at the Congress.
Asian football’s most powerful but beleaguered man Mohammed bin Hammam had to fight a tough battle at the Congress to retain his position as FIFA’s executive committee member. The Qatari, who is also AFC president, barely managed a 23-21 victory over rival Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim of Bahrain with two ballots declared invalid as they were spoilt.
‘I know president Bin Hammam very well. We all supported him in the beginning but I think that vote of trust we gave him, I am very sorry to say, we have created a dictator. He is not for all but for himself. We think there is a line that has been drawn and this line has been crossed. His autocratic decisions have divided Asian football,’ AFP quoted Ebrahim as saying before the Congress.
The number of Pakistani officials invited by AFC on that crucial occasion for Hammam clearly shows how votes and sympathies are bought by the big wigs of the continental association.
Sources, however, say that PFF also uses pressure tactics, asking the AFC and FIFA to invite more officials than required.
Although sources said that national league had to be postponed as the officials were on a joytrip, Col Ahmad Yar claimed PFF had to move the event in June because of lack of sponsorship - Shazad Ali - Dawn Com
May 29, 2009
FORMER Sportswriter and Malay Mail Sports Editor, Tony Mariadass has started a blog at www.level-field.blogspot.com - He has covered 12 consecutive sea games since 1983, two asian games and the 2004 sydney olympics. When I was stringing in Malay Mail way back in 1996, Tony M guided me and shared his knowledge about Malaysian sports. He is passionate about sports and continues to talk about it. He actually managed a football team called the "KL Malay Mail", which played in the Premier League. In short he has walked the talk. Welcome Tony!
PASUKAN KELANTAN DIBENARKAN BERMAIN SEMULA DI STADIUM SULTAN MOHAMAD KE-IV KOTA BAHRU SEBAGAI VENUE TUAN RUMAH.
Jawatankuasa Tatatertib FAM ke-13 yang bersidang pada 28 Mei 2009, telah membuat keputusan menarik balik pengantungan Stadium Sultan Mohamad Ke-IV Kota Bahru berkuatkuasa dengan serta-merta. Keputusan ini dicapai berikutan semakan semula hukuman yang dikenakan pada 10 April 2009 kepada Persatuan Bolasepak Kelantan.
Walaubagaimana pun Jawatankuasa Pertandingan Tempatan FAM akan menetapkan syarat-syarat yang harus dipatuhi oleh Persatuan Bolasepak Kelantan dalam masa yang terdekat ini sebelum bermulanya semula pertandingan Liga Super pada 16 Jun nanti dimana pasukan Kelantan akan menentang pasukan Perak UPB Myteam di Kota Bahru.
Pada insiden yang berlaku pada 7 April lalu semasa perlawanan separuh akhir pertama Piala FA diantara Kelantan menentang Negeri Sembilan, Persatuan Bolasepak Kelantan (KAFA) telah didenda sebanyak RM100,000.00 diatas kejadian rusuhan oleh penonton dan penyokong.- Dikeluarkan oleh Jabatan Media FAM.
JAWATANKUASA Disiplin Persatuan Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM) memutuskan untuk membatalkan penggantungan Stadium Sultan Mohamad IV selepas mesyuaratnya, semalam. Ia bermakna Kelantan yang digantung daripada menggunakan gelanggang mereka sehingga ke penghujung musim bakal beraksi di depan penyokong mereka menentang UPB MyTeam pada 16 Jun ini. Setiausaha Agung FAM, Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad, mengesahkan keputusan itu, tetapi memaklumkan butiran lanjut mengenainya akan hanya diumumkan, hari ini.
Jawatankuasa Disiplin sudah membuat keputusan tetapi ianya akan dibincangkan dengan Jawatankuasa Pertandingan Tempatan FAM. Butirannya akan diumumkan esok (hari ini),” katanya. Presiden Persatuan Bola Sepak Kelantan (Kafa), Tan Sri Annuar Musa, turut mengakui ada mendengar keputusan itu, tetapi mahu terlebih dahulu mendapatkan kepastian daripada FAM.
He said Ibrahim, an OCM vice-president, was a qualified and capable leader for the No. 2 post, now held by Datuk Dr M. Jegathesan.
"I've known him (Ibarhim) as an experienced hand in leading sports bodies and also in getting sponsorship for sports," Shahidan, who is also the president of the Malaysia Amateur Athletics Union (MAAU), told Bernama here Thursday.
Shahidan who is contesting the OCM president post, said Ibrahim was also someone who could carry out well the tasks entrusted to him.
He believed that the associations which supported him in the contest for the OCM top post would also be supporting Ibrahim in challenging Dr Jegathesan for the deputy president post.
Shahidan also repeated his earlier statement that good leaders were not necessarily those already at the top who boast experience in running sports bodies at the international level.
Asked about his final stand on challenging the current OCM president Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar for the post, he said he had not changed his mind.
He said what was important for him was to see to the further development of sports through the sports associations that he helmed.
Shahidan is also the president of the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM), Kabaddi Association of Malaysia (KAM), Petanque Federation of Malaysia (PFM) and the Perlis Football Association (PTA).
He said at the Korat SEA Games in Thailand in 2007, swimming and athletics contributed 14 and seven medals respectively for Malaysia.- Bernama
May 28, 2009
“Arsenal are in my heart and blood and the Champions League defeat with them was the biggest disappointment of my career, but tonight I am happy,” Henry said. “I’ve waited so long for this and the last five minutes were the longest of my life. We were 2-0 up, but were playing the best team in the world so you never know.
“This team [Barcelona] is unbelievable. It is not only the Champions League, no team has ever done the treble in Spain before and we will always be remembered as the first. Apart from the way we played, it is the way we fought all season. I wasn’t going to play and went through pain to play. So did [Andrés] Iniesta and the way we played, apart from the first ten minutes against a United team who are always difficult, was amazing.”
May 27, 2009
MAAU deputy president Karim Ibrahim said the decision was made during the MAAU executive board meeting last Saturday.
"Although we had initially nominated him for the contest, we (MAAU) want to know whether he was firm on the decision. If he decides to contest, we will back him," he told Bernama when contacted Tuesday.
Shahidan who is also president of the Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia (ASUM), Kabbadi Association of Malaysia and Perlis Football Association was nominated to contest the OCM president's post currently held by Tan Sri Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar.
When nominations closed last Wednesday, Shahidan who was also nominated by other associations, was the sole contender for the post.
Shahidan who in 2007 was also nominated to challenge Tunku Imran, decided to withdraw weeks before the Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The OCM AGM on May 30 is also expected to see contests for deputy president, vice presidents and assistant secretaries.
MTA Ad-Hoc Committee chairman Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar said with the crisis entering its fifth year, the committee, formed in April after the MTA's re-suspension by the Sports commissioner, has held seven meetings and its 15 members had agreed to the new MTA.
"The 15-member committee want to end this crisis for the development of the sport in this country," said Tunku Imran who is also president of Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM).
MTA, which comes under the affiliation of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), was de-registered by the then Sports Commissioner, Tan Sri Elyas Omar on May 6, 2005 for hindering the development of the sport and in the public interest as provided under Section 20 (1) (e) of the Sports Development Act 1997.
The MTA later pursued the matter in court but was subsequently reinstated by former Youth and Sports minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said on July 5, 2007.
However, some officials who were not happy with the reinstatement of MTA, filed a complaint with the SC's office and Datuk Nik Mahmud Nik Yusof who succeeded Elyas, once again de-registered MTA.
The Ad-Hoc committee comprises representatives from two factions, MTA and its affiliates, Malaysian Taekwondo Federation (MTF) and Malaysian Taekwondo Clubs Associations (MTCA), Grand Masters Association, National Sports Council, Youth and Sports ministry and Education ministry.
"We are progressing positively and will re-launch the new MTA entity either in July or August after amendments have been made to MTA's previous constitution, by-laws, and membership enrolments," he said after chairing a meeting with 184 taekwondo instructors nationwide at the OCM Indoor Sports Complex, here, Tuesday.
With the MTA problems approaching an imminent end, taekwondo is expected to be included in the 2010 SUKMA in Melaka.
May 26, 2009
Wade Elliott curled in the winning goal after 13 minutes and the Lancashire club, who were relegated from the old first division in 1976, were the better side throughout.
“I think we were worthy winners but my heart goes out to Sheffield United,” Burnley manager Owen Coyle told Sky Sports after their 61st match of a season, which included a run to the League Cup semi-final and the last 16 of the FA Cup.
“I’m delighted with what we have achieved. It’s great adventure to look forward to.”
Promotion for Burnley, who have operated on one of the smallest budgets in the Championship this season, means an estimated windfall of around £50 million pounds (RM277 million).
It also means 7,000 of the club’s fans will be watching Premier League football free of charge next season courtesy of a pre-season pledge from chairman Barry Kilby to fans who bought season tickets for the current season before August 8 last year.
They join Championship (second division) champions Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City in the Premier League after they took the automatic promotion spots.
West Bromwich Albion, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United were all relegated.
Burnley, one of the traditional names of English football and founder members of the Football League, almost slipped out of the professional ranks 22 years ago when they needed to win their final game to avoid dropping out of the fourth division.
However, their fortunes have gone full circle and they have won many neutral fans this season with their eye-catching style under the impressive management of Coyle.
That was evident again on a humid day at Wembley in front of 80,000 fans.
Elliott’s winner was worthy of the occasion. After a surging run the ball came back to him 25 metres out and he sent a shot arcing beyond the reach of Paddy Kenny.United, who were relegated in bitter circumstances two years ago, hardly created any clear chances and were reduced to 10 men late on when Jamie Ward was sent off for deliberate handball
May 25, 2009
"I am now in a dilemma as to the next course of action. I will however, meet the players, team management and fan club members to discuss the situation.
"But the final decision will only be decided at the KAFA council meeting on Wednesday," Annuar Musa told reporters when met at the KLFA Stadium in Cheras last night.
He was earlier reported as saying that KAFA may have no choice but to withdraw from the Super League due to financial reasons because Kelantan incurs up to RM30,000 loses for every match played at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil (Kelantan's current home ground).
The FAM banned Kelantan from playing their home matches in Kota Baharu since April 9, following a riot after an FA Cup match on April 7, when fans damaged 10 vehicles, including that of Annuar Musa, while a police car was set on fire.
In the incident, a student also lost his right eye, after allegedly being hit by an unidentified object when police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
"Due to the ban, we have to travel a long distance which is certainly tiring and most of the time trainings are disrupted. We also have to fork out money for food and lodging even when it is our home match," he said.
Asked of his opinion on suggestions that he should appeal directly to FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah, Annuar said that is not the right procedure to follow every time a problem arises.
"What I know is that there is a procedure and system. So if there was a punishment the affected party is allowed to appeal," he said.
He added that his team's fifth consecutive loss (lost to KL Plus 0-2 last night), was expected but believes Kelantan can rise from the slump if matches were played at home.
Kelantan's recent slump started after losing to Selangor in the FA Cup final, losing 0-2 to Negeri Sembilan, 1-2 to Johor FC, 0-2 to Perlis and 0-2 to KL Plus.
May 22, 2009
Hundreds of Arsenal fans are expected to take part in a march this weekend in a bid to persuade manager Arsene Wenger not to leave the club after reports linked him to Real Madrid.
The march is being organised by REDaction, a supporters group which has called on fans to meet near the Emirates on Sunday, shortly before the last match of the Premier League season against Stoke. The group called the event a “march of solidarity”.
“The consensus among fans is not only that he should stay but also that he’s one of the few managers in the league that’s earned the right to walk away,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday on its website.
British media have reported over the past few days that Wenger is considering leaving the club for Real after fans criticised him at a meeting last week and because of a limited transfer budget for this summer.
Some Arsenal fans have become increasingly frustrated after a fourth consecutive season without a trophy and Wenger’s reliance on young players.
Thousands streamed out of the Emirates with 30 minutes to play in the Champions League semi-final second leg on May 5, in which Manchester United were leading 3-0 before knocking out Arsenal 4-1 on aggregate. A similar situation happened at a league game at the Emirates against Chelsea five days later in which the Gunners lost 4-1.
Wenger was dismissive of that behaviour after the Chelsea match, saying curtly that fans have the right to leave the stadium when they want. — AP
"We still have a long way to go, before finalizing the squad. It is important to see the players consistency." said K.Rajagopal.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) will adopt an open door concept in hiring a new project manager.
The BAM are currently looking for an interested and qualified person to fill the “hot seat” to monitor the training and coaching set-up.
The person will be responsible for ensuring the smooth running of all the elite and back-up training programmes and to keep the coaches on their toes.
He will be the link between the people on the ground, the coaches and players, and the BAM coaching and training committee, headed by Datuk Nadzmi Mohd Salleh.
It will be first time in many years that the BAM are going public to appoint a person for an influential administrative post.
The BAM secretary, P. Ganga Rao, said: “We want genuine candidates to apply for this post. It is open to the public.”
Currently, the singles and doubles chief coaches — Rashid Sidek and Rexy Mainaky — and Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) chief coach Sun Chenhua reports to acting coaching coordinator Kenny Goh, who is also the BAM general manager - THE STAR
P/s : Maybe BAM should explain why FAM International Officer ER Subramaniam was not appointed despite giving him a draft copy of the contract. Was it true that BAM received phone calls from certain individuals and high ranking officials about appointing Subramaniam. It is no point advertising for the sake of public show off. BAM should stop playing this double standard game! Will it be BAM's call or National Sports Council (NSC)
May 21, 2009
ERIC DUDLEY SAMUEL CELEBRATES HIS 47TH BIRTHDAY TODAY.
I HAVE KNOWN HIM FOR THE LAST 13 YEARS AND TRULLY HE IS ONE OF THOSE THAT IS LIKED AND LOVED BY MANY FRIENDS IN THE MEDIA
ERIC WISHING YOU A BLESSED BIRTHDAY AND MAY THE GOOD LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU IN GOOD HEALTH ... WHATS THE MENU FOR TODAY BRO ...
THE PICTURE WAS TAKEN IN 1999 DURING THE BRUNEI SEA GAMES ,
ERIC AND THE GANG
When nominations closed at 5pm today, the OCM received challengers for the president and deputy president's posts, currently held by Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar and Datuk M Jegathesan respectively, but their names were not announced.
However, the post of Honorary secretary held by Datuk Sieh Kok Chi since 1992, would not be contested together with posts of Honorary treasurer, assistant Honorary treasurer and the women's vice president's posts.
Apart from the two top posts, other posts that would see contests are the posts of vice presidents (four), assistant Honorary secretary (male) and assistant Honorary secretary (female).
For the president, Tunku Imran is expected to be challenged by former Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim while the deputy president's post is expected to be a race between Jegathesan and current vice president Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad.
"I promise to carry out my duties better, more fairly and transparently for the development of sports in the country. I cannot deny that I had thought of giving up the post but the national sports associations still need my service," he told reporters here Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Low Beng Choo who was initially rumoured to take on Kok Chi, retained her post of the women's vice president while Datuk Seri Kee Yong Wee and Rosmanizam Abdullah kept their Honorary treasurer and assistant Honorary treasurer posts.
A panel of three independent members comprising former OCM vice-president Norminshah Sabirin, Datuk Abdul Malik Mohd Salleh and Stanley Charles Louis have been appointed to oversee the AGM in line with the amendment to the OCM constitution on conducting the election as agreed by the Sports Commissioner's Office.
The posts of assistant Honorary secretaries are currently held by Ramlay Ibrahim and Moira Tan Siew See.
According to Norminshah, the names of the candidates will be announced on Friday.
May 9, 2009
FIFA President Joseph S Blatter believes that the Asian Football Federation (AFC) should amend its statutes to ensure the AFC President is automatically made FIFA Vice President.
“What we have to do is to make sure that all presidents of confederations are members of the FIFA Executive Committee in the position of vice president,” Blatter told journalists after the 23rd AFC Congress.
Currently, AFC's representative as FIFA Vice President is Korea Republic's Chung Mong-joon. Also sitting on the FIFA executive from Asia is AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam, who was re-elected to his seat on Friday, Thailand's Worawi Makudi and Japan's Junji Ogura.
AFC is in the process of changing its statutes so that the AFC President is also FIFA Vice President.
It was due to be written into the statutes at Friday's Congress but Bin Hammam referred it to the newly constituted Legal Ad Hoc Committee for review.
Added Blatter: “Whoever is president of FIFA, it is better for him to have vice presidents as heads of confederations. It is easier to work together and better for the good of the game.”
So far, AFC and the Latin American confederation are the only continental bodies that do not apply this principle.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president beat Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa in a poll of the 46-member confederation at the AFC Congress at the Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur.
There were two spoilt votes.
“It’s a very close call in a very democratic election,” said Sheikh Salman, the Bahrain Football Association president, who campaigned on the refreshing platform of “Asia for Change”.
“I accept the decision. I believe it is a very clear signal to the AFC management to listen more closely to the voices of the smaller countries.”
Friday’s poll culminated an acrimonious fight for power in which Hammam, who has held the FIFA position since 1996, had threatened to step down as Asia's most powerful football figure if he was defeated.
Sheikh Salman said the result showed that “Asia wants more transparency and fair play in the decision-making process” and he counted himself “a little unlucky not to have got the extra couple of votes”.
Asked about his future plans, he said “my heart is still for Asian football, especially in helping the little-known countries”.
“For the moment, I will continue working as the Bahrain FA president and I will work towards the betterment of Asian football if there are opportunities in the future,” he said.
No doubt, the image of Asian football has been damaged during this campaign and old stereotypical images of bribery, bullying and corruption have been refreshed in the minds of many around the world. Hammam, with his dictatorial-style of “one-man-show” management, bears much responsibility for that and he has some work to do to restore his reputation.
Thankfully, the tone of the AFC Congress took a positive turn for solidarity after an impassioned speech by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Following worrying calls by AFC countries of election irregularities, Blatter even brought a Switzerland notary and lawyer with him to act as an independent supervisor of the vote, amid fears there could be election-irregularities.
"I call on the AFC to choose your FIFA delegate in the spirit of fair play. I appeal for Asian unity,'' said Blatter.
"I spoke to the two candidates and they both said they will accept the verdict and work for the future of Asian football."
Blatter had been briefed of Hammam’s move to take the AFC headquarters from Malaysia and a plan to sign a 12-year marketing deal with World Sport Group. And on Blatter’s suggestion, Kuwait, which was expected to be barred for not having a properly elected committee, was allowed to take part. Likewise, Afghanistan, Brunei, Laos, Mongolia, and East Timor also voted after concerns that they might be excluded were ironed out.
Kuwait’s respected football statesman Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah summed up Hammam’s close-call win as a “right wake-up call for more transparency”.
“We must have more changes for Asian football and a fairer distribution of rights for every member, regardless of where they come from,” said the AFC executive member.
“The winner here is Asian football as it shows there is a lot of democracy in the AFC. This 23-21 result is a right wake-up call to Hammam.”
The barrage of personal attacks and intimidation that had plagued the election reached a nadir when FIFA vice-president Chung Mong Joon said Hammam was suffering mental problems and acting like the head of a criminal organisation.
Hammam had earlier accused Chung of bankrolling Salman's campaign and had also said he would chop off the head of Korean FA president Cho Chung Yun. He later said the Arabic words he used were not literal, and akin to the English saying "heads will roll".
Hammam, who celebrated his 60th birthday today, said he accepted the “victory with humility and dignity”.
“I promise you that I am going to do more than I have done in the past. For those who chose not to support me today, I also promise them I will do my best to have your confidence and trust in me next time,” he said.
“Let us work towards an united Asia after a divided election campaign. We can resolve our setbacks within the Asian football family.
“Asia needs all of us...both camps. The Future is Asia, as the AFC motto goes.”
May 8, 2009
The 46 members of the AFC had been due to vote later today on whether or not to accept bids from other nations to host the regional body.
At the beginning of the annual congress, however, AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam asked members to scratch that issue from the day's agenda.
"Yesterday I met with the Prime Minister of Malaysia (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) who has shown great sympathy and concern over keeping our headquarters in Malaysia," the Qatari told the congress.
"He is going to look into this matter himself so I ask you to delete this item," he continued as loud applause broke out among the members.
Malaysia has been home to the AFC since 1965.
Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Singapore had all showed early interest in hosting the AFC headquarters were it to leave Malaysia.
May 7, 2009
Kuwait FA has been barred from voting by the AFC Executive Committee which met this morning. The AFC Congress is schedule for tomorrow (May 8th, 2009) to elect Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa or Mohamed bin Hammam for the FIFA vice president’s seat (West Asia).
It is learnt that FIFA will intervene in the matter and an make an official announcement.
May 6, 2009
The unintentional “desert” remark of Dato’ Peter Velappan on Tuesday became a tongue-in-cheek talking point at Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah’s press conference today.
Velappan, the former general secretary of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), had unreservedly apologised after making the remark in relation to AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam.
But Sheikh Ahmad, the Kuwait Football Association president, said he was personally “proud to be a desert man” in casting his vote at Friday’s AFC Congress election in a “contest of two desert people” for the post of FIFA Executive Member (West Asia).
“I’m proud to be a desert man and I’ll be voting for one of the two desert men - Mohamed bin Hammam or Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa,” said Sheikh Ahmad.
“The division of the Asian football family saddens me very much. The situation is very serious and there will be global sporting repercussions to the present disunited stand in Asia,” said the president of the Kuwait Football Association.
Up for grabs on Friday: The post of FIFA Executive Committee (West Asia) with two Arab candidates, Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar and Bahraini Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, once claimed to be friends, now engaged in an unsporting war of words that’s almost dismembering the AFC.
Sheikh Ahmad, who has been one of Hammam’s harshest critics, lashed out at the Qatari businessman’s “one-man show” in running the AFC.
“The AFC leadership is a team job, not a one-man show, and we have to work with 46 team players for an united football organisation,” he said.
“For solidarity, there must be fairness in decision-making. Procedures must be done in a justified way and they must be respected by the majority, if not everyone.
“Never in the history of Asian football have I seen such a major division with so much unhappiness within the Asian football family.”
In the top-notch international football-arena for close to two decades, Sheikh Ahmad called on Asian delegates to remember the “important values of football” and added: “Football is a universal sport based on the fundamental principles of discipline and respect for opponents...and the spirit of fair competitiveness and rivalry.”
He said Kuwait had “the full rights to vote on Friday” although the AFC ad-hoc Legal Committee deemed that it did not recognise the temporary committee that is currently running its football affairs.
FIFA, however, clarified that the Kuwait Football Association was recognised by FIFA after a suspension it was under for political interference was provisionally lifted, and it had full voting rights.
Sheikh said that Kuwait’s legitimacy showed when it was allowed to vote at the 2007 AFC Congress and at the FIFA Congress last year.
“Any unfair procedures against Kuwait now will never be accepted,” he warned. “We’ll follow any the legal procedures at the AFC Congress...and I’ll fight for Kuwait’s rights (to vote) until my last breath.”
His vote on Friday is crystal clear. He favoured Sheikh Salman, the Bahrain Football Association president, who is also a member of the Bahraini royal family.
“In the midst of a divided Asia, I support Sheikh Salman. But whoever wins, I will work with him for the betterment of Asian football,” he said.
“We must mend the wounds and bring back the long-lost solidarity sporting spirit in the AFC.”
The continued in-fighting within the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) could result in the suspension of the world’s second largest confederation.
Dato’ Peter Velappan warned that FIFA, the world football controlling body, may even withhold recognition of a split AFC.
Painting out the worst-case scenario ahead of Friday’s AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Velappan, the longest-serving AFC former general secretary (1978-2007), said the consequences of the prolonged disunity among the 46 member associations can have unprecedented repercussions.
“If Friday’s AFC Congress gets out of hand, there could be a split right down the middle especially if the AFC president (Mohamed bin Hammam) puts his foot down and not allow at least five associations to vote,” he said.
On Friday, Hamman takes on Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifah, the president of the Bahrain Football Association, in a straight fight for the post of FIFA Executive Member (West Asia).
Four of the associations - Laos, East Timor, Afghanistan and Mongolia - were told by the AFC they could not vote because they had not participated in at least three Asian competitions in the past two years. FIFA firmly ruled the contrary, and made it clear that under-13 and under-14 competitions must also be considered.
Kuwait were informed by the AFC that it did not recognise the temporary committee that is currently running its football affairs. FIFA clarified that the KFA was recognised by FIFA after a suspension it was under for political interference was provisionally lifted, so Kuwait had full voting rights.
Velappan warned: “The five countries barred from voting could immediately resign and if a number of other countries follow suit, disgusted by Hammam’s dictatorial style of leadership, we may have a major AFC split.
Much as this is unprecedented since AFC’s formation in 1954, the current turmoil has provoked mammoth unhappiness and the possibility of a monstrous anti-climax where the “future of Asian football, democracy and freedom of speech” could be at stake.
Hamman’s blatant refusal to follow the FIFA ruling, prompted Velappan to remark that the Qatari was arrogantly behaving like an “Emperor of Asia” with his indifferent set of rules.
“My heart cries after spending more than 30 years of my life to build the AFC,” said Velappan, wherein he attributed the sudden crisis in the Asian football family to the “greed and ambition of one man” who is in a “hurry to rewrite a new history of Asian football”.
Velappan repeatedly called for “Fair Play” and urged Hammam to respect the “most sacred document” which is the FIFA Statutes.
“He has completely ignored FIFA's opinion in recent weeks as far as the FIFA Statutes are concerned and that should never be tolerated. It is a clear indication of the serious and problematic situation that awaits us,” he said.
But Hammam, the Qatari businessman who became AFC president in 2002, is desperate for victory as he sees the polls as an acid test of the overall confidence in his leadership.
And to raise the stakes, he has vowed to end his six-year reign as the AFC supremo if defeated in Friday’s Congress election, which coincides with his 60th birthday.
In another press conference, AFC Finance Committee member Richard Lai of Guam questioned the disproportionate allocation of funds, especially for grassroots football development.
In the US$150million rise from $92m (2005-2008 budget) to $242m (2009-2012), which he described as the “biggest budget increase in AFC history”, he moaned that majority of the subsidies were for the bigger Asian tournaments, leaving only the scraps for the lesser-known age-group competitions.